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30 Healthy Cholesterol Tips

Tips on managing high cholesterol and keeping your heart healthy.

1. Find more ways to walk. Can you walk to the store for milk? Park farther away? Take the stairs? If you can move more, DO! Physical activity is vital to heart health. 2. Eat six or more small meals a day. A large study of British adults found that people who ate six or more times a day had lower cholesterol than those who ate twice a day, even though the "grazers" got more calories and fat! 3. Fix all your sandwiches on whole grain bread. Eating more complex carbs, like whole grain bread and brown rice, can increase HDL levels slightly and significantly lower triglycerides, another type of blood fat that contributes to heart disease. 4. Say cheese! Women who ate a serving a day (about the size of four dice) had higher HDL (good cholesterol) and lower LDL (bad) than those who ate less, according to a study at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. 5. No laughing matter. A recent study showed that diabetes patients who watched funny sitcoms for 30 minutes, along with their standard meds, reduced their heart risk substantially: They had about a 26 percent increase in HDL ("good" cholesterol), compared with a bump of just 3 percent among patients in the control group. 6. Brew it better. If you're worried about cholesterol, stick to paper-filtered and instant coffees. Unfiltered coffees, which are typically made with a French press, contain more of a cholesterol-raising substance called cafestol. 7. Make the move to nonfat milk. If you drink whole milk, switch to 2 percent. If you already drink 2 percent, move to 1 percent. If you drink 1 percent, you're ready for nonfat.

8. Start with soup. Studies show that folks who begin their meals with soup end up eating fewer calories by the end of the day without feeling hungrier. Give it a try with a brothbased soup. 9. Bag some barley. Thanks to its impressive stash of soluble fiber, which slows the digestion of food and the rise of blood sugar, barley is much friendlier to blood sugar than rice for most people. And it lowers cholesterol to boot. 10. Start three days this week with oatmeal, a proven cholesterol-reducer. Use the oldfashioned or quick-cooking kind, not instant. 11. Sip a cup of black tea every four hours. Government scientists found that three weeks of drinking five cups a day of black tea reduced cholesterol levels in people with mildly high levels. 12. Berry good news. Adults who ate about a cup of berries a day lowered their blood pressure and raised their HDL (good) cholesterol after eight weeks, according to a new study from Finland. 13. Pay attention to fiber. Studies find that eating 10 to 30 grams of soluble fiber a day -much more than the average American eats -- reduces LDL about 10 percent. Aim to up your intake slowly though, otherwise you may experience some bloating and flatulence.

14. The use of medication doesn't have to be permanent. If you improve your diet and increase your activity level, you may reduce your cholesterol enough to get off the medication and stay off it!

15. Add half a tablespoon of cinnamon to your coffee before starting the pot. A Pakistani study found that 6 grams cinnamon a day (about 1/2 tablespoon) reduced LDL cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes by nearly 30 percent. 16. Try turmeric. Small studies have found that curcumin, a component of turmeric, cuts cholesterol. Heat a little oil in a saut pan, and toss in a tablespoon of turmeric, a dash of salt, and a generous pinch of black pepper (pepper can increase your uptake of curcumin by up to 2,000 percent). Stir for a minute, then add veggies and lean protein for a healthy, sunny dish. 17. Pop edamame as a snack. Just half a cup contains nearly 4 grams fiber, not to mention the soy isoflavones in these soybeans. Consumption of both has been linked to lower cholesterol. 18. Fall in love with olive oil. A study found that people who consumed about 2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil daily for just one week had lower LDL and higher levels of antioxidants in their blood. 19. Put your pizza on a diet. Order a veggie pie with extra vegetables. Or, if you must have meat on your pizza, make it chicken or ham, not pepperoni. Or try clams, shrimp, or anchovies! 20. Practice deep breathing four times a week for two to four minutes. Use this technique when you're faced with a stressful situation to mitigate your body's reactions. 21. Take as prescribed. If you need cholesterol medication, statins are generally prescribed first, but your doctor may also suggest bile acid sequestrants, fibrates or prescription niacin, all of which will help. 22. Make healthy eating easy. If time's an issue, buy "semiprepared" foods. Some examples: boneless, skinless chicken breast; broccoli and cauliflower florets; and bagged salad. 23. Bag the butter. Dip breads in olive oil instead, or try a sterol-based spread. In the kitchen, try replacing butter with olive or canola oil. 24. Make meals picture-perfect. On days when you don't have salad, add a piece of fruit to your lunch. Or better yet, have fruit at lunch and salad with dinner. 25. Get creative with vegetables. Throw frozen veggies (no need to defrost!) into soups. 26. Step to it. Try to get at least 2,000 steps a day just through everyday activities, like vacuuming and gardening. Make it easy and check out a sports store for a pedometer. 27. Bored with your walks? Invite a friend to break up the tedium or try a new route -both can make for a more enjoyable experience, and time will go much faster. 28. Lower stress levels with an enjoyable hobby. Can't think of one? Jot down your favorite childhood pastimes, then find one you can transfer to your adult life. For instance, if you loved to draw, find a drawing class nearby and sign yourself up! 29. Sprinkle wheat germ or flaxseed (both rich in omega-3 fatty acids) over salads, yogurt, and cereal. 30. Set the alarm on your computer to go off once an hour. This is your signal to get up and take a short, five-minute walk.